In the B.C. years, your family tree was everything. It established your rights and status in society. Godspeed to all of us who have family trees that look more like spider webs.
In light of the importance of your lineage, it isn't surprising that a genealogy is how the story of Jesus's birth begins in Matthew 1:1–17:
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
What is a surprise about this family line of Jesus are the characters that fill it. Abraham took advantage of a woman. David orchestrated a murder. Jacob snatched his brother's birthright. Judah sold his brother. And there was literally someone named Salmon.
Jesus's bloodline was anything but spotless. It was a family tree full of sin, scandal, and shame. It held generations of mistakes and failings. But out of this, God brought us a Savior.
Matthew 1 is a picture of the ultimate redemption we find in Jesus. There is nothing He can't redeem: no bloodline, no family, no relationship, no story, no past, no circumstance, no mistake, no regret. Just look at how He redeemed His own broken branches of a family tree. Dane Ortlund said, “But this is just how the Lord delights to work—taking the sidelined and the overlooked and giving them quietly pivotal roles in the unfolding of redemptive history.”
Jesus has come for those with scandalous backgrounds and those who grew up in the church and everyone in between. Jesus has come for the broken and the believers. Jesus has come for the prostitutes and the pastors. Jesus has come.
Jesus has come to redeem generations. Jesus has come to redeem families. Jesus has come to redeem stories. Jesus has come to redeem our biggest mistakes. Jesus has come.
Jesus has come to redeem our estranged relationships. Jesus has come to redeem what keeps us up at night. Jesus has come to redeem our career paths and our bank accounts. Jesus has come to redeem our shameful pasts and our messy presents. Jesus has come.
I don't know what needs redemption today: your marriage, your busy week ahead, your past year, your choices last night. But I do know that this broken family tree shows us that Jesus can redeem anything.
We all need a redeemer. And by the grace of God, our Redeemer has come.